Background: The objective of this study was to investigate the use of cryosurgery and to determine whether there is a role for combined therapy with alcohol ablation in the treatment of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Methods: Twelve patients with biopsy-proven hepatocellular carcinoma underwent ultrasound-guided cryosurgical ablation of their liver tumor. Post-operative alcohol ablation was performed on those patients who were found to have residual tumor or recurrence after the cryosurgical procedure.
Results: Of the twelve patients (9 males, 3 females), the size of the primary tumor ranged from 3-13 cm with average size of 7 cm in greatest dimension. Most patients had advanced disease according to the TNM staging system: 9 patients had Stage IVA disease; 2, Stage III; and 1, Stage H. Three patients had residual tumors after the cryosurgical procedure. The residual tumor was treated with alcohol ablation. The 1 year survival rate for the entire group was 50% (5 of 10), and the 2-year survival rate was 30% (3 of 10). At last follow-up, I patient with an 8 cm tumor was disease free for 3 years; and another patient with a 13 cm tumor was disease free for 2.5 years. Both of these patients had Stage IVA disease.
Conclusions: The authors found cryosurgery to be promising in the treatment of this extremely aggressive form of cancer, with the ability to prolong patient survival. Followup treatment with alcohol ablation is an important adjunct in treating residual tumor and controlling recurrence.
KEYWORDS: hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatoma, cryosurgery, alcohol ablation, cryoublation, liver cancer.